Yesterday Big Daddy Drew at Deadspin addressed the subject of Blogging as Journalism. It is an excellent read and I highly recommend for anybody that spends time reading blogs, to take five minutes and read it. It is my feeling that this debate is at the core of much of the criticism that has been leveled at this site, both in the comments and in emails.

Some feel that at times I can be overly critical of newspaper columnists and websites that cover the Rays. What people need to realize is that Rays Index is just a chronicle of what is going on in the Raysiverse mixed with my occasional editorialization. Some of those thoughts have been molded by talking with others before I write, but make no mistake, the words on this page are mine and mine alone. One person’s opinion. If you disagree with me, I must ask why you hate freedom. Or maybe I am wrong. That is what the comments section is for, and I promise those comments are never censored.

I am not a journalist, nor am I trying to be a journalist or pretending to be a journalist. It should be obvious that there is a clear distinction between the writings at this site and the work that is done at The Tampa Tribune or The St. Pete Times. And while it may not be as obvious, many of the same distinctions are what separates this site from another Rays “blog”, DRays Bay.

Many of the criticisms directed at this site are for the way I have treated writers at DRays Bay. Sports blogs come in all different shapes, sizes and colors. Unlike most blogs, including this one, Drays Bay is trying to be a journalistic entity and some of the writers at Drays Bay aspire to be professional sports writers. One has even written a book on the Rays. They try to give you breaking news. They do interviews. They present everything to you in real time, whether it be important or not. They have 284 different writers and 10,000 different things you can click on their front page. They are the Yahoo! of Rays websites.

At RI, I don’t often write until I have had a chance to discuss the topic, think the topic through, feel out multiple sides to the topic. It gives me a chance to offer a well-thought out evaluation of what has happened, what has been said, and what has been written…and maybe insert a poop joke or two. And quite frankly a lot of the topics don’t need much discussion, so they go in the “Devil Rays Webtopia” the next morning. But if something is written that is idiotic, silly or just plain wrong, I will voice my opinion and make sure that Rays fans are made aware as to why I feel the other piece is crap. It does not matter whether the original piece was presented by the Tribune, the Times, DRays Bay or Martha’s Beanie Baby Blog.

From Big Daddy Drew’s post on Deadspin

The problem is that many journalists, and in turn many readers, have a deeply held belief that the printed word (on paper or electronically) holds more weight than the spoken word. That it is somehow sacrosanct. But that’s not true on blogs, or on message boards, or on text messages. In these new forms of media, the written word is just as disposable and frivolous as a conversation between me and you (and talking with me is like taking a dip in an empty kiddie pool). And it’s foolish to assume otherwise. Most sports blogs are run by fans, and serve mainly as an online extension of the friendly banter we all engage in about sports on a daily basis. It’s not journalism. It’s a blog. It’s its own thing, and the two needn’t be confused.

I have no aspirations to be a journalist, so I am not worried about offending anybody. I don’t care if the team gets upset with something I write, because I am not seeking interviews. I don’t care if I insult Marc Lancaster or Marc Topkin, because I am not trying to get a job with the Tribune or the Times. That allows me to truly speak to you as one fan would speak to another. You may not agree with my evaluation, but it is mine…uncensored.

I would like to think that this gives RI a level of objectivity that you will not find elsewhere. Unlike journalists, or those that aspire to be journalists, we are not beholden to the hands that feed us. We feed ourselves.

As for Rays of Light? They are a blog like us…minus the asshole and the 8th grade humor…Wait…Never mind.

The Super Bowl Bye Week Jamboroo, In Which Drew Pauses To Make A Serious Point About Blogging As Journalism, Then Makes Chili [Deadspin]

 
 

19 Comments

  1. EricSanSan says:

    Although I’m really new to the blogging world, I’d be interested to see where you throw me into that mix. It’s a cool way to separate the different kind of content you get at each main site.

  2. Mike says:

    Prof, I know you say you have no aspirations to be a journalist and that is great. But, IMHO,the Times and the Tribune would be lucky to have you. And this is the problem with most “journalists”. They are boring. I dont agree with everything you say, but you are rarely boring and you almost always open my eyes to a different way of looking at things. Just a quick example, normally i would have looked at the idea of trading kazmir as another slap in the face from this organization, but now i am warming up to the idea, that it might just be the smart move in both the short term and the long term.

    nobody and I mean NOBODY knows this team as well as you do and from what i have read you actually seem to be one of the more levelheaded fans out there. openly critical, but not apocalyptic. a fan, but not a homer. sure I have felt that your critiques at times went overboard, but they were almost always right.

    keep up the good work and dont let the man get you down.

  3. Devil Ray Guevara says:

    as you know from our prior discussions, I think your rants are the right amount. I for one think you dont rant enough. I have no desire to see this site turn into a FireJoeMorgan, but most people still believe everything they read in the paper. It is not my contention that the writers are intentionally misleading the readers. I just dont think they know what they are talking about. Just because they have more access, doesnt make them smarter and it doesnt make them know the game of baseball any more. I wouldnt be surprised if all of the pros that cover the Rays havent played the game since T-ball, if ever. And they sure dont know the basic ins and outs of running a MLB team. They are fed lines by the team and the write the lines down. there is rarely an original thought.

  4. The Professor says:

    Eric, I want to reserve absolute comment on your site as I am still feeling you out as a writer. But what I have seen so far has been good. You are more like a columnist that a journalist. building on topics and trying to find something deeper within them.

    keep up the good work.

    Mike,thanks for the kind words.

    DRG, one of these days…

  5. Nick says:

    I agree with Mike. This is, far and away, the best source for Rays news and analysis on the internet.

    Sure, I read Trib and the Times, as well as the other blogs, but this is what I look at first thing in the morning (at multiple times throughout the day).

    It really is a treat to be able to read this site and keep up with the Rays, since I live in Tallahassee (Braves Country). Thanks for the hard work, Prof.

  6. Sean G says:

    NOBODY knows this team as well as you do

    funny little story. I used to have an argument with two friends about who was really writing on this site. I used to argue that It was either Andrew Friedman or some underling from the Rays writing under a pseudonym. Every time you would predict or project something, you almost seemed to be speaking as if you were the team and you were sending out a “feeler” to gauge public reaction. and a lot of things turned out to be right on, when other people were predicting or hoping for something else. I mean sure, who wouldn’t want Posada as their catcher, but the move just didnt make any sense if you thought about it for more than 3 seconds.

    Well, then i saw your writings on other sites and figured you must be a real person.

    i too think the Times or Tribune coverage of the Rays would be 1000% better if they had somebody that knew the team as well as you did, but I would also understand how they might shy away from your style of writing, and besides, I like you here, where you don’t have your hands tied.

  7. Anonymous says:

    some people are just overly sensitive. dont sweat it.

  8. The Professor says:

    nick, thanks!

    sean, i assure you. I am not employed by the team. although I would not be against being hired as a backup bullpen catcher

    anon, i know. i know. just wanted to let people know where i stand and where i am coming from. the content will remain unchanged.

  9. Anonymous says:

    “openly critical, but not apocalyptic. a fan, but not a homer”.

    i can get the news from the papers. I read blogs to get a perspective. not a different perspective. ANY perspective is nice, because the papers rarely give you one.

    this is not meant as a criticism of DRB. i read them all the time. as you said, I can always count on them having the latest news. But it does feel as though they never say anything, except for the occasional “maybe the Rays should sign [insert random middle reliever]“

  10. Elijah's 6th Love Child says:

    what? no comment from Jake yet?

  11. Scott says:

    Well said, Cork. I tried to make this point a few weeks ago, but failed miserably.

    And, for the record – we engage in SIXTH grade humor at Rays of Light. Not eight grade. Get it right. :)

  12. The Professor says:

    my bad. i wont make the same mistake twice

  13. raysrule07 says:

    Well, I hate to poop on the party, but here’s my two cents.

    Cork, I understand that you are not a journalist and are not trying to be. However, I for one usually do not read this site, due in large part to the negativity. Not that it is wrong, this is a blog and you can write whatever you want, it’s just that I don’t feel like wasting my time reading an entire entry about why one phrase makes a columnist suck. I come to Rays blogs to read about the team, not the skill of the columnists, and I think most fans can see for themselves why they suck.

    I also happen to like DRaysBay for multiple reasons. One is that they usually break the news before pretty much anyone else. Another is that they get great interviews. Another is that when there are minor signings, they don’t just say, “here are his stats, he’ll probably suck.” They usually give a good background on the player and discuss his potential role and his potential for improvement as a player.

    Regarding RI Cork, I think you do a fantastic job of gathering information from other blogs and putting together the webtopia. It is a unique and useful feature, and I love it.

  14. Robert Rittner says:

    I will wade into this one.

    I read blogs because they offer benefits I cannot get in newspapers. Unimpeded by journalistic convention, they have fewer restrictions. The language can be more raw and sometimes more lively. The opinions can be expressed without a concern for either censorship or editing. I do not consider them better or worse and agree with the referenced article that they are different. I also think that journalists who attack their existence are wrong, although their specific criticisms or caveats are often legitimate.

    The newspapers would not be lucky to have you because in your present form they could not use you-unless of course we are talking about the National Enquirer or Star. That is not meant as an insult; it simply means that journalistic style and restraints serve a legitimate purpose and should not be so easily dismissed.

    That said, I am always impressed by your insight and analytical skills. I visit here regularly because you stimulate my thinking and offer outstanding interpretations of baseball events. If the notion is simply to be as follows:
    “Most sports blogs are run by fans, and serve mainly as an online extension of the friendly banter we all engage in about sports on a daily basis.”

    then frankly I would not be interested at all. I find barroom banter is boring; well maybe a better word would be conventional and uninspiring. I can get that anytime and anywhere. If I read a site I want it to know more than I do, to offer insights that provoke me to think (note, I said to think, not to react). I never liked teachers who were obviously trying to be one of the guys or who were out to amuse me; I wanted teachers who were above me. I feel the same way about blogs or anything else I read or participate in. I do not need pandering.

    To say you are more objective than the journalists is precisely the opposite of true; you are more subjective in that you are under no obligation to consider fairness. You may express any opinion, quote any way you like and are not responsible to anyone to check your sources or evidence. Silly too is the notion that you know the Rays better than the journalists who cover them. You may be more incisive-and often are-but your information is second hand by your own admission.

    I do not understand this statement: “If you disagree with me, I must ask why you hate freedom”. Disagree with you about what? Certainly not about your specific views.

    If you are going to express your views publicly, you have to accept opposition. The criticisms are not of you but of what you say-or how you say it-and there is a world of difference between the two things.

    For example, you and I have argued about your criticisms of Topkin. I reiterate that I find your attacks on him and on his writing juvenile, unconvincing and bloated nonsense. Harsh words, I know, but in my view earned. The strange thing is that the one recent article by Topkin that I thought deserved serious criticism-his explanation of his HOF ballot-I do not remember you mentioning. (Perhaps I missed it.)

    It’s your blog. Do what it what you will. But as it is public, you may expect others to let you know their opinions also, and mine is that journalist or not, we all have a responsibility as people to try to be fair, honest and reasonable in our criticisms, and when we aren’t, to expect response.

  15. The Professor says:

    raysrule07, i understand your point. i think if you look at the blog as a whole, I write about 15 posts a week and maybe 1 every 3-4 weeks is negative.

    and while i agree that many people can see why they suck. it is my experience that most actually take what columnists say as gospel. i feel that it need to be pointed every once and a while that not every thing they say/write is true and some of it is downright misleading.

    thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. i promise you, i read all these and take them all under consideration. robert might disagree, but he might attest that i have toned down the negativity a notch in recent months. maybe not.

    RR-as usual your thoughts are always welcome and well-regarded. a couple of points.

    I do not mean to imply that all i offer is barroom banter. more i just want that level of comfort here, as if you and are talking one-on-one.

    i try to be objective. i may fail. i do not know. but i do believe that journalists that interact directly with the team and the players have a hard time being objective because the team and the players are the journalists meal-ticket. if the team/players become offended by something a journalist writes, they can be cut-off and then they have nothing. last year, somebody brought up some interesting points about Chad Orvella that nobody had addressed. I sought out Chad and asked him a few questions and reported on that here. since then i have found that I have a harder time being more objective about Orvella’s performance because he in a sense did me a favor. I now am questioning whether or not i ever want to go down that road again. for fear of losing my objectivity.

    the statement about “freedom” was just sarcasm to express that i am not so silly to think that everybody need agree with everything. and I do not mind the opposition, i just question why there is opposition. to disagree with me is fine. i do not mind that, but to just question the manner in which i present my opinions is something different.

    i do believe i am fair.some people are fair by always straddling the fence, and never making a strong statement one way or another. some people are fair by spending time on both sides. i try to be the latter.

    as for Topkin. I have been harsh on a few of his pieces. But also have positively referenced his pieces on many, many more occasions. as for the hall-of-fame piece. it was not Devil Rays-related, so i did not touch it, which i believe should serve as an example that I am not just out to get Marc Topkin.

  16. The Professor says:

    as for working for the Trib or the Times. I may be wrong, but i think the other commenters meant that they could use somebody that was a bit more opinionated and more colorful.

    many other newspapers employ columnists that are much more emote than what the Trib and Times have presently. It is not a terrible thing to try and elicit emotion from the readers.

    That being said, I dont think anybody believes i could write for either in my current style. my style is just a little too raw for a refined publication.

  17. Robert Rittner says:

    I do think that your last few postings have been less negative. Actually, negative is not really the word I mean to use because I have no objection to critical pieces in and of themselves, only to those that are ad hominem or that overgeneralize so that some minor criticism is exaggerated into some sort of blanket condemnation.

    I also do think that the manner in which one presents his points can be significant and worthy of criticism. But I have commented on that at length before and see no need to revisit it now except to note that style can influence whether people respond with information, logic and thoughtfulness or with simple (minded?) ranting.

    I certainly agree that you do not engage merely in barroom banter. In fact, that is my point, that what you do is so much more interesting and lively, and while informality is fine and desireable, and “childish humor” can be fun and help loosen everyone up, there are judgment calls as to how far to go in that direction before tipping the balance too far from serious discussion over to just messing around.

    I imagine journalists have exactly the problem you describe in your Orvella anecdote. Part of their professional training must deal with that issue, and I am sure they are constantly trying to balance the need for access with the need to maintain a critical distance. It must be a delicate balancing act, but they should not therefore be impugned either as puppets or as traitors to the team, both criticisms which I’ve seen about the same journalists at various sites.

    I will close (finally) by pointing out that being fair has nothing to do with straddling a fence and taking a strong position has nothing to do with being strident or dogmatic. It has to do with stating a firm opinion based on evidence and logic, and balancing that against what is valid in the opposite position. Again, I am talking about judgments, not absolute rules, and so each case has to be evaluated separately. For myself, I try when I criticize to refer to the specific point you make in an article, and hope I have never been abusive or generalized from some specific criticism to an overall attack on your blog.

    On the contrary, as I have said repeatedly, I greatly appreciate your analyses and commentaries and am grateful that you allow even the most critical replies to appear uncensored, a mark of great integrity on your part.

  18. Anonymous says:

    this is what chaps me to no end. this site has an occasional critical article and and it is probably the same 3 or 4 people every time that are offended. if you guys would quit bitching we can get back to talking about the Rays. the truth is, 99% of us dont give a shit. we come her for everything else. if the professor wants to rant every once in a while, for the love of fred mcgriff, LET HIM!

  19. Robert Rittner says:

    In the first place, “let him” is irrelevant. Nobody is stopping him, nor can you even if you wanted.

    Second, being offended is not the issue. Disagreeing is the point. I am not offended by rants, although I find them generally useless and unfunny. But if I disagree with what is said, then I express it. There is nothing personal in this, and there is no reason to assume that because one is critical, one is sensitive.

    Third, as Corky is talking about the Rays or issues relating to them, the discussions that ensue from those criticisms are pertinent. Part of the purpose here seems to be to keep people alert to the flaws in mainstream reporting, I think an admirable goal. Any discussion about specific instances then relates exactly to one of the functions of the blog.

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